This post is inspired by a typo. When someone talked about being nostalgic for the 1980s even though she didn’t grow up during that time, I replied:
As someone who spent my 20s in the 80s, they all that great.
— Matthew Arnold Stern (@maswriter) June 11, 2018
Oops. So am I or am I not nostalgic for the 80s? No, even though I write about the 80s in my novel Amiga. Here are the reasons why.
Let’s start with her claim about better cars. I had a 1984 Honda Civic hatchback that I loved. It took all the abuse I threw at it, including the daily 120-mile roundtrip commute between Reseda and Irvine I took during my first four months of my job at AST. I took trips to San Francisco and Las Vegas in it. I moved to Orange County in it. My girlfriend (and later wife) and I moved to our first apartment in it. It was the perfect car for me at the time.
But it can’t compare to my current car, a 2017 Toyota Prius Prime. My Civic sipped gas, but it can’t match the fuel economy of my Prius Prime. The 25-mile range of the battery covers all the places I go to on a daily basis. As a result, I’ve only had to fill up my tank twice in the two and a half months since I got it. Add Bluetooth, navigation, backup camera, and every safety feature imaginable, and my 21st century car leaves that 1980s vehicle in the dust.
Better music? The 80s had great music, and I can listen to all the songs I like on my iPhone 7. If I haven’t downloaded the Dead Kennedys or Frankie Goes to Hollywood song I like, I can stream them or listen to an 80s channel on satellite radio. You can still enjoy 80s music. You just don’t have to change cassettes or lift the needle and lower it elsewhere to skip a song.
As for fashion, unless you like shoulder pads and excessive lace, no.
No social media? The constant distractions, trolling, and propaganda are irritating. But we benefit by making personal connections, maintaining family relationships and friendships across the miles, and promoting our creative works. It has become an indispensable tool for social change. I wonder how much more effective the movements I believed in would have been if we had social media back then.
The social media question brings up memories of the computers I had in the 80s. My favorite of the Commodore computers I had was the Amiga 500. I wished I still had that computer. If a publisher picks up Amiga, I might have to buy one for my book promotions. There are people who still use Amiga computers. They modify them by adding accelerators, connecting them to modern flat-screen monitors, and using them to access the Internet. But even the most powerful Amiga can’t compare to the computers I carry in my backpack, slip on my pocket, and wear on my wrist.
What is the value of the past if advances in technology, medicine, and society make life better today? The past shows us where we came from. We see how the choices we made shaped us into the people we are today. This is the theme of my novel Amiga. A woman looks at her past to find guidance on how to deal with her present-day problems.
We can’t live in the past, but we can learn from it. History offers perspective to help us understand and deal with current problems. It also reminds us that if we can make it through yesterday’s struggles, we can get through today’s.